Current Issue / DU Alumni

Anthony Graves is a self-described ‘fixer’

Because of his eagerness to improve the community, Anthony Graves is receiving the University of Denver’s 2009 Community Service Award. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Anthony Graves (IMBA ’04) is a person who does whatever it takes.

When he was 26 and raising his 16-year-old nephew, Graves’ management job in the technology industry disappeared, so he took a job filing for the Colorado Department of Human Services to make ends meet.

He realized he needed another degree to get his career back on track, so he went back to school, balancing his role as mentor to his nephew and working to pay the bills.

When his job with the Department of Human Services sent him out to deliver food to seniors, he discovered poverty and poor living conditions. So, he served on a board that was focused on creating affordable senior living.

He walked into the Gilliam Youth Services Center and asked what they needed; he ended up working with youths to give them life skills and help them take responsibility for their actions.

Commonly, without being asked, Graves finds himself walking in doors and asking people what they need. He says he’s an “asker” and a “fixer.”

Because of his eagerness to improve the community, Graves is receiving the University of Denver’s 2009 Community Service Award.

“I am motivated by making a material impact,” says Graves, who exudes calm despite the myriad responsibilities he’s undertaken. “I like projects that help change people’s lives, especially people who may not have a voice to ask for what they need.”

Devany Severin, public relations coordinator for the Denver Rescue Mission, says Graves was visiting the mission with a professional group that was doing one day of community service. Graves could have handed out food with the rest of the group and left, never to be seen again.

Instead, “Anthony asked what more the Denver Rescue Mission needed in the upcoming months,” Severin recalls. “Upon learning that we were in great need of men’s dress clothes and business attire, he offered to arrange a ‘Dress For Success’ men’s clothing drive.”

Graves was thrilled with that program, which he ran through another of his favorite organizations: Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

“I was ecstatic!” he says. “Most of the suits we received were either brand new or straight from the cleaners.”

Today Graves is an international operations and marketing manager at Sun Microsystems and has served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer for DU’s Daniels College of Business. He was elected to a four-year term on the Democratic National Committee and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Graves is active on DU’s African-American Alumni Association and several other community-focused organizations. And yet, despite these weighty obligations, Graves still seeks out grassroots community needs that he might be able to impact.

“I think I have a service addiction,” he says, laughing. “Lately, I see more and more need, and I’m looking for ways to magnify my impact. When you see that you can really help someone really fundamentally improve their life, then you want to do it more.”

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